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David Ferren may be blind, but his visio

September 30, 1997

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ David Ferren may be blind, but his vision for the future was exceptional 19 years ago when he told Bill Clinton: ``I believe you’re going to be president, and when you do, I want to tour Air Force One.″

Ferren got his tour last Wednesday after Clinton landed for a five-day visit to Arkansas. Ferren was even allowed to sit in the navigator’s seat.

``Imagine that,″ Ferren said.

The 72-year-old Ferren first met Clinton after he lost a 1974 run for Congress and made his prediction when he spoke to Clinton at a fund-raising event four years later.

``I’m not going to become president,″ he quoted Clinton as saying, ``but if I do, I promise I’ll let you tour Air Force One.″

Ferren was blinded in 1962 when he damaged his optic nerve while delivering supplies to a Titan missile silo under construction in Arkansas.

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STONINGTON, Conn. (AP) _ The day began for the owners of the Water Street Cafe with a favorable review in The New York Times. It ended with restaurant in flames.

A fire at the newly opened cafe Monday burned for hours before being brought under control. The 125-seat restaurant was destroyed.

Owners Walter and Stephanie Houlihan, who also run a popular market in this shoreline town of 16,000, had already made copies of the Times review _ which recommended the prosciutto quesadilla, warm duck salad and escargot empanada and rated the restaurant ``very good.″

The restaurant had opened in on a Friday the 13th in June.

``We’re not superstitious people,″ Ms. Houlihan said. ``If we were, we would not have opened that day.″

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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PITMAN, N.J. (AP) _ Jeff Barris was nosing around an old swimming hole with a metal detector when he unearthed a 1938 high school class ring bearing just initials. That’s when his real search began.

He started by looking at the 1938 Pitman High School yearbook until he found the name of Agnes Copeland, a student who matched the initials on the ring: ``A.C.″

Then Barris went to the municipal building to find tax records for Copeland. When he called her former address, her brother, H. George Copeland, answered.

As it turned out, he had bought the ring for his sister in 1938. Agnes now lives in Los Angeles.

``We got all excited,″ Barris said. ``He gave me her name and address and I sent the ring to her.″

Agnes Copeland Trader couldn’t remember how she lost the ring or how it landed in the old swimming hole. She hadn’t seen the ring in 50 years.

Mrs. Trader sent Barris a thank-you note and a $50 check. He sent the check back, saying he was just happy she got her ring back.

Said Barris, vice president of the South Jersey Metal Detector’s Club. ``This is the first successful return I’ve had.″

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DETROIT (AP) _ It was an emancipation that would have saddened honest Abe.

Someone stuffed a 6-foot-2, 300-pound statue of Abraham Lincoln into the back of a car and drove off with the figure that had stood in front of the city library for decades.

``The library’s just very concerned that it’s been taken, and we’d like to have it back,″ said Pat McClary, the Detroit Public Library’s assistant marketing director.

Police suspect three people were involved in the theft early Sunday. A witness said the culprits stuffed the statue into the back of a Ford Escort.

Ms. McClary said she couldn’t specify the statue’s value because it has never been appraised. But she called the figure priceless, both in terms of its bronze and of its significance as ``a Detroit treasure.″

The statue _ cast in 1915 _ is a full-body rendition of Lincoln standing with the Emancipation Proclamation in his left hand. It stood in front of Ford Motor Co.’s original Lincoln automobile plant before being donated to the library in 1958.

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Flossie Torgerson says she won’t be sleeping well _ Alissss the 7 1/2-foot boa constrictor that ate her 2-pound Chihuahua will be allowed back in the neighborhood.

The approval from the city’s Animal Services Commission came Monday.

``With more sympathy than I can say, I think we are looking at an unfortunate accident,″ Commissioner Gini Barrett told Torgerson.

Angus Johnson’s snake escaped out an open door during a heat wave and found Babette too appetizing to pass up. Alissss has been kept in San Bernardino pending the commission’s decision.

``(P)eople’s pets get loose and attack other people’s pets all the time _ dogs kill other neighbor’s cats, cats kill neighbor’s birds,″ Johnson said. ``They don’t lose their pets. They pay the damages and do what’s right and get their pet back.″

Said Torgerson: ``I guess I’ll stop sleeping now because I got no way of keeping that snake from coming right through that same door where it drug my little dog out.″